Healthcare Workers at High Risk for Musculoskeletal Injuries

Musculoskeletal disorders, conditions that affect the nerves, tendons, muscles, and supporting structures, account for a significant number of work injuries. Often caused by overexertion and heavy lifting, these injuries affect thousands of workers a year in various industries. Surprisingly, the highest rates of musculoskeletal disorders (or MSDs) occur not among such workers as construction laborers or freight, stock, and material movers, but among nursing aides, orderlies, and attendants.

Work injuries caused by physical overexertion in the healthcare industry are often related to manual patient handling. These activities involve heavy manual lifting associated with moving patients and working in awkward and uncomfortable postures. The lower back and shoulders are most often affected, and sprains and strains are the most common types of injuries.

Work-related musculoskeletal injuries among nurses are often costly, raising medical expenses, disability compensation, and costs associated with missed work and turnover, to name a few. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) website, direct and indirect costs associated with back injuries alone are estimated to be $20 billion annually. But nurses that experience pain and fatigue due to MSDs may also be endangering others as well; healthcare workers suffering from such injuries may be less attentive and productive, putting the health and safety of patients at risk as a result.

In order to prevent these injuries, OSHA recommends relying on transfer and lifting devices for moving patients, along with the education and training of healthcare workers about safe practices for patient handling. To learn more about workers’ compensation and MSDs, contact our Pennsylvania workers’ compensation lawyerstoday.



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